The city of Peabody welcomed the Patrick-Murray Administrationís Municipal Affairs Coordinating Cabinet Tuesday for the fourth in a series of meetings to highlight new developments in state and local government that can benefit cities and towns across the Commonwealth.
The cabinet, which was established in 2007, aims to strengthen municipal partnerships between state government, and cities and towns.
"We've embarked on these to really just facilitate conversation and allow some of the agencies within the executive branch to introduce themselves and explain what they do and explore different ways that they can partner with you," said Lt. Governor Timothy Murray, who led the meeting. "It's really our responsibility at the state level to try to work with you as productively as possible and try to provide strategic resources when we can."
Various administrative officials attended, including Deputy Commissioner of Revenue and Municipal Affairs Chairman Robert Nunes, Information Technology Division (ITD) Municipal Liaison Tim Sullivan and Housing and Economic Development Assistant Secretary Jen Murphy.
Murphy touched upon the Gateway Cities program, which is largely reserved for communities in serious need of revitalization.
To the surprise of Mayor Edward Bettencourt, Peabody was designated as a Gateway City in February. In order to become a Gateway City, an area must have a population count between 35,000 and 250,000, a median household income below the state average of $65,981 and a rate of educational attainment of a bachelorís degree or above that is below the state average.
During the meeting, Bettencourt referenced the city's recent designation asking about ways in which Peabody can benefit from the program, given his initial apprehensions about the distinction.
"What it does is it gives the city access to additional resources that are specific to the cities' needs in order to help with different projects," Murphy said. "We're putting together a lot of resources in the administration...there are success stories in every Gateway City."
Although Bettencourt said he had mixed feelings when Peabody was dubbed a Gateway City, he is now eager to take advantage of the available programs and grants.
"I was a bit surprised when we were designated a Gateway community," Bettencourt said. "I think our numbers are just a fraction below the state average that qualified us for this distinction. Now it's on me, it's on the city to try to utilize this to our best advantage and that's why I was very glad the Gateway City's secretary was here today to touch on some of the topics."
Bettencourt added that he'd like to immediately pursue grant money for some of Peabody's parks, streets and local playgrounds.
In regards to hosting the Municipal Affairs Coordinating Cabinet meeting, the Peabody mayor said he was honored.
"I thought it would be very valuable to our city just to continue to try and build partnerships," Bettencourt said. "That's been one of the points of emphasis: To build relationship with our state and our other surrounding communities. I feel you can accomplish more when you're working together."